A Broad Look at the Victorian Parliamentary Enquiry into Clerical Child Sexual Abuse (Or: Clayton’s Royal Commission)

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Image source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/pell-and-hart-outraged-over-allegations-20130329-2gz1c.html#ixzz2P1F41pec

The Victorian State enquiry into child sexual abuse differs from the other two State enquiries in Queensland and New South Wales. It is not a judicial enquiry or a Royal Commission. It is only a Parliamentary enquiry which has very few powers, a matter which has concerned all victims groups and legal firms associated with victims. Premier Baillieu claims this form of enquiry was chosen, despite its legal problems, to ensure a “less formal” approach, as if this has any real meaning outside the “Spin guide for Politicians” handbook.

As with the NSW enquiry, the limitations of the Victorian enquiry added impetus to the push for a Royal Commission.

The Catholic Church, led by Sydney Cardinal George Pell and Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart (latter pictured above) has also been critical of the enquiry, but for different reasons. Both strenuously deny most of the claims made so far to the enquiry by victims and Victorian police. Indeed, they even appear to question the motivations behind the whole process, indicating that an anti-Catholic conspiracy may be behind some submissions. This is their undisputed right, but of course, many would disagree with their conclusions.

The Catholic Church does not appear to have much reluctance in using legal processes to defend their reputation, again something which is their undisputed right. However, they may lose more in terms of public perception if they have adopted a more conciliatory and co-operative approach more consistent with general Christian philosophy. In today’s world, much of the public tend to think of legal injunctions as being ham-fisted and threats of legal action as a heavy-handed approach to criticisms. Then again, many would say that this is just another indication of how out of touch the churches are with modern times.

An example of this occurred last week in a posting by Cardinal Pell’s media advisor, Katrina Lee, concerning evidence presented to the enquiry by victim’s advocate and lawyer, Dr. Waller. Ms Lee said that “’False accusations such as this are not only seriously defamatory but can (in certain circumstances) amount to a contempt of Parliament and professional misconduct. At the very least, the inquiry, the media and the public has been seriously misled.”

The response from Dr. Waller was that “’If the archdiocese of Sydney believe I have engaged in professional misconduct I invite them to bring a formal complaint.”

The Victorian Catholic Church establishment, deploying a legal barrage, may win the battle, but will surely lose the war.

[Postscript: It is noted that, according to a Google search, a recent subscriber to this blog is a lawyer with Cardinal Pell’s legal advisors, Corrs Chambers and Westgarth.]

Read more here:

TOMORROW: What Victorian police say.

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)

 

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